Falcons’ Isaiah Oliver impressive at nickel to new coaches

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver breaks up a pass to Saints running back Alvin Kamara but can’t come down with the interception during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver breaks up a pass to Saints running back Alvin Kamara but can’t come down with the interception during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

New Falcons secondary coach Jon Hoke noticed that cornerback Isaiah Oliver started to play better last season after he was moved to nickel back.

“Isaiah, I really thought when he moved inside you really saw the player that he definitely can be even more,” Hoke said. “With his instincts, he does have length and short-area quickness. He’s also instinctive and he’s physical in there. I thought when I saw him start playing inside, you could see his confidence grow. I thought he did a nice job.”

The nickel-back role is important in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ attack.

“He’s asked to do multiple things,” Hoke said. “He’s part linebacker at times in the run game; he’s got have a skill set to cover.”

Oliver was drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft out of Colorado to replace right cornerback Robert Alford. He started 12 of 16 games last season and struggled outside until the move inside.